Welcome to the Fantasy Football Forecast! My goal with this weekly column is to get you actionable information as quickly as possible, regardless if you're playing season-long fantasy, DFS, or are grinding player props. If you're just looking for fantasy football rankings and only have 10 minutes to skim through for your sit/start decisions, then head over to the "Forecast" sections below where I project each player's PPR finish based on a 12-team league. But if you want to get your research on, then I have full player breakdowns. As always, hit me up on Twitter @HaydenWinks if you have questions.
Teams are listed in order of their Vegas projected team points.
Page 1: NO, TB, BAL, IND, KC, SF, GB, DAL
Page 2: ARI, NYG, LAR, MIN, CHI, CLE, TEN, NYJ
Page 3: CAR, SEA, PIT, DET, BUF, ATL, CIN, MIA
TNF: OAK, LAC
Byes: DEN, HOU, JAX, NE, PHI, WAS
Saints (32 implied points, -13 spread) vs. ATL
Drew Brees has 370 yards in both of his healthy games this season, and he’s coming off the bye to face the Falcons’ No. 30 defense against fantasy quarterbacks. The Falcons are 31st in pass defense DVOA and 32nd in adjusted sack rate. With a week-high 32-point projection, Brees is obviously a stud QB1. … The Falcons defense has allowed the fourth-most rush attempts per game (31), largely because they’ve been trailing frequently. That trend should continue with the Saints listed as 13-point home favorites. Alvin Kamara is expected to return, but I’d be surprised if Latavius Murray wasn’t more involved after his two great games with Kamara sidelined. There should be enough volume and enough points scored to make both Kamara and Murray fantasy starters this week. Kamara is an upside RB1, while Murray belongs in the upside flex range.
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The Falcons are PFF’s No. 32 pass coverage defense. Michael Thomas is leading in targets per game and is a top-five talent. Elite WR1. … Ted Ginn should benefit from Brees returning to the lineup because Brees has historically completed more passes downfield than Teddy Bridgewater and Ginn has a high 14.8 average depth of target. The Falcons are in the bottom 22nd percentile at preventing 20+ yard pass plays, too. Ginn is a quality dart throw option for those in bye-week hell and for those looking to stack the Saints in DFS tournaments. … Jared Cook is set to return, and he’ll likely go overlooked after missing a ton of time and struggling to start the season. But not having Brees for most of those early-season weeks definitely has played into his 2.5-28-0.3 receiving line average. With Brees back and with a huge 32-point team total, Cook has upside as a TE1/2. He’s worthy of a pickup in season-long if he was dropped.
Bucs (28,.25 -4.5) vs. ARI
Jameis Winston is tied for the second-most games with at least 300 passing yards (5). He’s a wild card in real life but he hits his fantasy ceiling frequently. With the visiting Cardinals up next, Winston is a candidate for another 300-yard, multi-touchdown game. Arizona is dead last against fantasy quarterbacks and is in the bottom 12th percentile in pass defense DVOA and at preventing 20+ yard passes. Winston is an upside, mid-range QB1. … With the second-most projected points of the week and as 4.5-point favorites, this is the best week for the Bucs’ running backs. This week, coach Bruce Arians said, Ronald Jones "earned the right to start" and "play more snaps." Jones, who has averaged 11.5 carries and 1.0 receptions per game, can now be projected for 13-18 touches per week, enough to vault him into the RB2 discussion. The Cardinals are slightly better against the run than the pass (see chart above), but this is still an above-average matchup for Jones as an RB2.
The Cardinals are PFF’s No. 30 pass coverage defense, and Mike Evans and Chris Godwin have both been WR1s all season long. Of the two, Evans offers more upside since he’s leading the NFL in air yards -- he came the first receiver to eclipse 250 air yards in a single game last week -- and has the biggest red-zone target share (see my tweet below). … Chris Godwin’s production is more bankable because he’s targeted shallower (11.1 aDOT to Evan’s 15.3), but he still offers a ceiling with WR1-level usage. Winston to Evans and/or Godwin stacks will rightfully be very popular in DFS with this game having the highest over/under. … Breshad Perriman ran a route on 78% of dropbacks and was targeted a season-high eight times last week, so he’s a deep sleeper and potential DFS tournament stack with Winston. … O.J. Howard is expected to return after missing three weeks, and the matchup literally could not get better. Arizona is averaging 14.7 non-PPR points allowed to opposing tight ends (for reference, second-most is 12.9 and third-most is 10.9). Howard has some upside based on the matchup, but the floor is still very low. Howard was averaging 2.2 receptions and 29 yards without a touchdown prior to his injury. Howard is just an upside TE2, especially with Cameron Brate healthy.
Ravens (27.25, -10) @ CIN
Lamar Jackson is averaging the most rushing yards per game (79.6) for a quarterback in NFL history, and he’s rushed for 119 and 152 yards in his two starts against Cincy. The Bengals simply do not have the talent to stop LJ right now, even when he’s battling a sickness. Jackson is in the mix for the QB1 overall this week. … The Bengals defense has allowed the most rush attempts per game (35) because they suck. Mark Ingram is a candidate for 20+ touches, which gives him plenty of touchdown upside since he’s already third in carries inside-the-10 (17). With Vegas projecting Baltimore for 27.25 points as 10-point favorites, Ingram is a fringe RB1/2 while Gus Edwards and Justice Hill work behind him.
Marquise Brown wasn’t very involved against the Patriots (as expected), but he’s a candidate for a ceiling game this week. The Bengals are 30th in the NFL at preventing 20+ yard passing plays and 29th in pass defense DVOA. I’m expecting a couple of deep targets to Brown this week, making him an upside WR3 and perfect stacking option with Lamar in DFS tournaments. … Miles Boykin and Willie Snead aren’t seeing enough volume to play in even the best matchups with Brown healthy. … Mark Andrews is the real No. 1 pass-catcher in the offense, operating as both a safety net and down the seam option for Lamar. Against Cincy a few weeks back, Andrews caught six passes for 99 yards. He’s a locked-in top-five TE1 with upside.
Colts (27.25, -10.5) vs. MIA
Update: Jacoby Brissett is out, so Brian Hoyer will start with Chad Swag Kelly as his backup. I'm slightly downgrading Zach Pascal, Chester Rogers, Jack Doyle, and Eric Ebron. The Colts also waived WR Deon Cain.
Jacoby Brissett (knee) was limited at practice early in the week and is shaping up as a game-time decision. If he can’t play Brian Hoyer will dink-and-dunk his way through a conservative game plan against the bottom-shelf Dolphins. Brissett offers a little more upside as a high-end QB2, but I’m projecting low passing volume regardless of who starts. The Dolphins defense has allowed the fourth-fewest pass attempts per game (30), and the Colts like to get run-heavy when they can. … That is obviously great news for Marlon Mack, who has averaged 18.3 PPR points in the eight games he’s played in where the Colts won by at least 7 points. Not only are the Dolphins 31st in run defense DVOA, but Miami is also 29th in rush attempts allowed per game (32) since they’re often playing behind. Mack has 20+ carry upside as an upside RB1/2 with plenty of touchdown equity with the Colts projected to score 27.25 points this week.
T.Y. Hilton is expected to miss again, and rookie Parris Campbell will join him on the sidelines. The Colts will ride with Zach Pascal, Chester Rogers, and Deon Cain as their primary receivers against PFF’s No. 31 pass coverage defense. Pascal is the clear-cut No. 1 receiver right now after scoring 18.6 DK points last week on six targets (19% team share), 80 air yards (44% team share), and 98% routes run. Pascal is also averaging 11.9 yards per target, making him a rock-solid WR2/3 without Hilton. … Chester Rogers has less upside because of his low average depth of target, but he’s a candidate for 4-7 targets as a near full-time route runner, which is enough to be on the WR4 radar against the Fins. … Jack Doyle has more receptions (24 to 18) on the season and ran more routes last week (32 to 20) than Eric Ebron. Doyle has a slightly better floor, but Ebron is averaging 13.8 yards per catch and has more touchdown upside. Both are on the TE1/2 borderline this week given the opponent, but Ebron is the better DFS tournament play.
Chiefs (27, -6) @ TEN
Update: Patrick Mahomes was named the starter.
Patrick Mahomes was a full participant in practice, meaning he’ll likely start this week. I’m partially worried about his re-injury risk and mobility, but his ceiling is far too high to keep on the bench in season-long leagues. The Titans will be without one of their starting corners and were already a below-average defense against the pass. Mahomes is a high-end QB1, but I’d be willing to listen to trade offers on him. … The Titans run defense is far better than their pass defense. PFF has them as the No. 2 run defense and DVOA has them in the top 7th percentile. Efficiency is a potential concern, but we possibly have one back pulling away from this three-man committee. LeSean McCoy had a fumble in Week 8 and since then touches are Damien Williams 21, Shady 4, and Darrel Williams 1. I’d be surprised if this split continued, but Damien is the one to start as an upside flex this week, especially because he can win as a receiver where he’d avoid the Titans’ solid run defense. Shady, meanwhile, is a very risky flex with the upside that comes with playing with Mahomes.
Tyreek Hill easily survived his two games with Matt Moore as the starter and will re-enter every-week WR1 status with Mahomes getting back into the lineup. The Titans secondary is banged up right now, but even at full health, there’s nobody stopping Tyreek with Mahomes at quarterback. … Sammy Watkins is averaging 9.3 targets in his healthy games this season, and he’ll have a better shot hitting a ceiling with Mahomes. Watkins hasn’t scored or reached 65 yards since Week 1, but he still has a huge weekly ceiling and may go overlooked because it’s been a minute since he’s full balled out. I like Watkins as an upside WR3/4. … Demarcus Robinson (45% routes last week) and Mecole Hardman (18%) will fight for leftovers. … Nobody, and I really mean nobody, is due for more positive touchdown regression than Mr. Travis Kelce. Just check out his red zone numbers in the tweet below:
49ers (26.5, -6) vs. SEA
Update: George Kittle did not practice Friday and his MNF status is "in doubt". Ross Dwelley would become a TE2 streamer if Kittle is ruled out, which is now seeming more and more likely. Seahawks TE Jacob Hollister is also an MNF tight end option. With Kittle likely sidelined, I've moved Tevin Coleman and Deebo Samuel slightly up and have more confidence in Emmanuel Sanders as a top-24 option.
Jimmy Garoppolo has been efficient (8.0 YPA, 5.8 TD%, 70% completions), but he’s only averaging 225 yards and 1.3 touchdowns with San Francisco dead last in pass attempts per game (28.75). The Seahawks and Niners are likely to slow the game down with rushing attacks, so projected volume is, once again, a concern. Garoppolo can still provide high-end QB2 value, however, with the Niners projected for a healthy 26.5 points. The Seahawks Defense is pretty bad right now. … Last week, Matt Breida had more opportunities than Tevin Coleman (17 to 16) for the first time since Coleman returned in Week 5. This backfield will continue to be a two-back committee, but the usage split should start favoring Breida because, well, Breida is better. Coleman is still the favorite for high-value touches (red zone and receptions) but I’m projecting Breida for more carries between the 20s. With Seattle in the bottom 32nd percentile in run defense DVOA, I like Breida as a flex and Coleman as a higher-upside, low-end RB2 with more touchdown equity.
Emmanuel Sanders has a 24% target share in his two games with San Francisco, which extrapolates to approximately seven targets per game if Jimmy G continues to average 28.25 pass attempts. I’ve been (wrongly) betting against the 32-year-old coming off an Achilles tear, but all of his efficiency metrics have been on par with his career numbers. The Seahawks are in the bottom 35th percentile in pass defense DVOA, making Sanders a WR3. … As you can see above, air yards and targets for non-Emmanuel and non-Kittle pass-catchers have been desolate, but here are routes run from last week: Deebo Samuel (25 of 40), Kendrick Bourne (16), Dante Pettis (14), Richie James (6), and Marquise Goodwin (healthy scratch). … George Kittle has at least 50 yards in 7-of-8 games and has remained heavily involved in the two games with Sanders (6-86-0 and 6-79-1). Kittle is a top-end TE1, especially since he is due for positive touchdown regression (8 red-zone targets with 0 TDs), whenever healthy. I'll update this Saturday when more news surfaces. Ross Dwelley would be a decent TE2 option if Kittle can't play. You'll want Jacob Hollister or Dwelley on the bench if you have Kittle so you can go into Monday Night Football with a starting tight end.
Packers (26, -5.5) vs. CAR
Although the Panthers are ranked highly in pass defense DVOA, they’ve been closer to the middle of the pack at stopping fantasy quarterbacks because Carolina has allowed the sixth-most pass attempts per game (38). Aaron Rodgers should bounceback with Davante Adams this weekend, but Rodgers has been very inconsistent for many seasons now. In his last 20 games, Rodgers has just two 3+ touchdown games. He’s a low-end QB1. … Aaron Jones is coming off season lows in carries (8), yards (30), and receiving yards (-1), but he’s a bounceback candidate this week despite sharing a backfield with Jamaal Williams. The Panthers are last in run defense DVOA, and the Packers are 5.5-point favorites with a 26-point team total. Jones is an upside RB1/2. … Jamaal Williams is one of the luckiest pass-catchers right now with four-straight games with a receiving touchdown. Williams should see 5-10 carries and 2-5 receptions, making him a low-end flex option for those in trouble with byes.
The Panthers are PFF’s No. 4 pass coverage defense and No. 3 in pass defense DVOA. That’s not an ideal matchup for Davante Adams who has admitted that he’s still working through his problematic toe injury. Also working against Adams is the fact that the Packers are 5.5-point favorites because Adams has historically been targeted a lot less with Green Bay leading. Even with all of this, Adams is at worst an upside WR2 after seeing 11 targets last week. … Here were last week’s targets, air yards, and percentage of routes run for the rest of the receivers: Marquez Valdes Scantling (2, 51, 70%), Geronimo Allison (2, 4, 60%), Allen Lazard (4, 72, 50%), and Jake Kumerow (2, 57, 25%). That’s very messy and probably best to avoid given the matchup. Of these receivers, I’d take my chances with MVS and Lazard if I needed to pick one from the group. … Jimmy Graham had back-to-back 0-catch games in Weeks 2 and 3. Since then, he’s averaging 3.7 receptions for 37 yards and 0.3 touchdowns. That’s enough to be a high-end TE2 but he needs to find the end zone to reach any sort of ceiling.
Cowboys (25.5, -3) vs. MIN
Dak Prescott belongs near the top in the NFL MVP discussion. He’s second in EPA/play, second in success rate, and third in completion percentage over expected. Dak is balling, and it’s translated to plenty of fantasy production. When Tyron Smith and Amari Cooper are healthy, Prescott is a borderline elite quarterback, and they’re healthy right now (Cooper reportedly should be fine). The matchup could be better since the Vikings are in the top 10th percentile in adjusted sack rate, but Prescott remains a mid-range QB1. … Ezekiel Elliott has carry totals of 28, 22, and 23 over the last three games and has been targeted 3-6 times when game scripts calls for it. Zeke is obviously a top-five RB1.
Amari Cooper is averaging 18.3 PPR points with Dak through 17 games, and there’s still some more room for improvement because Cooper somehow has the same amount of red-zone targets (4) as Antonio Brown this season. Cooper’s matchup with CB Xavien Howard and company is easier than it’s perceived, so Amari remains a WR1 as long as reports indicate his health is cooperating. … Michael Gallup has had WR2/3 usage in all but one game (Week 7), and there’s no reason to stop projecting him for 5-8 targets per week as the clear-cut No. 2 receiver. With the Vikings in the bottom 35th percentile against fantasy receivers and with Gallup averaging 9.9 yards per target, the second-year pro is an upside WR3. … Randall Cobb is averaging 3.6 receptions and 39 yards as a low-ceiling WR5. … Jason Witten has been a low-aDOT check-down option whenever Prescott is pressured, and it’s resulted in him averaging 4.3 receptions and 40 yards per game. The upside is limited, but he’s on the TE1/2 borderline.
Teams are listed in order of their Vegas projected team points.
Page 1: NO, TB, BAL, IND, KC, SF, GB, DAL
Page 2: ARI, NYG, LAR, MIN, CHI, CLE, TEN, NYJ
Page 3: CAR, SEA, PIT, DET, BUF, ATL, CIN, MIA
TNF: OAK, LAC
Byes: DEN, HOU, JAX, NE, PHI, WAS
Cardinals (23.75, +4.5) @ TB
Kyler Murray’s passing production has been up-and-down, but he’s averaging 42 rushing yards over his last seven games, which keeps his ceiling and floor pretty high. This week is shaping up as a ceiling week with the Bucs allowing the most pass attempts per game (41) and the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing fantasy quarterbacks. With Vegas projecting the Cardinals for a slightly above-average 23.5 points, Murray belongs in the top-eight quarterback rankings and deserves DFS tournament consideration. … David Johnson said he’s 100% ready for Week 10, so the question becomes how much will he play? Before Arizona signed Kenyan Drake, Cardinals reporter Josh Weinfuss said there was a chance Johnson would lose reps to Chase Edmonds (likely rushing reps) because “they can do a lot of stuff on the field at the same time, with Johnson running more receiving routes.” I’m viewing this statement as Arizona being willing to use a two-back committee even when Johnson is healthy. That means Drake will likely be involved this week, primarily as a runner, while Johnson operates more as a pass-catcher than pure running back. Other Cardinals beat reporters agree with this projection. The Bucs are No. 1 in run defense DVOA, so Drake is a boom-or-bust RB3. Despite the trust issues, I’d much rather start Johnson in fantasy, although he’s more of an upside RB2 than the no-brainer RB1 he was earlier in the year. I’m expecting 6-12 carries and 4-8 targets for Johnson this week.
Christian Kirk only had five targets last week with Murray oddly only throwing 24 passes. Things should change this week in this potential shootout against a bottom 12th percentile defense against fantasy receivers. Kirk has double-digit target potential (8.8 targets per game) and is due for some positive touchdown regression since he hasn’t scored despite having 34 receptions and 329 yards. Kirk is an upside WR2/3 and is my favorite player to stack in Murray DFS lineups. Remember, the Bucs defense is averaging the most pass attempts per game (41). … Larry Fitzgerald is averaging 2.3 receptions and 19.3 yards in his last three games, which is more evidence that his age is finally catching up with him. But the matchup is good enough to keep Fitzgerald in season-long lineups, especially since we expect his target total to climb back up the 7-10 range with plays expected to be in abundance. Fitzgerald’s ceiling is tied to random touchdowns, but he’s a fine volume-based WR3/4 this week. … Kirk and Fitzgerald are full-time route runners, and then there’s a rotation on the outside. Here are last week’s routes run and targets: KeeSean Johnson (15 of 33, 3), Andy Isabella (10, 1), Pharoh Cooper (10, 2), and Trent Sherfield (2, 0). Here’s what Kliff Kingsbury said about Isabella, “We know he has explosive capability. We want him to continue to learn and continue to get better. We have a plan for him, and he's on pace for what we want him to be." Let’s go Isabella truthers.
Rams (23.5, -3.5) @ PIT
Everyone knows Jared Goff has home/road and pressure splits, so facing the second-best adjusted sack rate defense on the road is a terrible spot. Making matters worse is the absence of his primary deep threat. Goff is merely a QB2. … Todd Gurley and Darrell Henderson split snaps and touches last week with the Rams taking a commanding lead early. After a bye, I’m expecting Gurley to have a 15-20 touch game as the primary back with Henderson (and possibly Malcolm Brown) occasionally rotating in. The Steelers have been more beatable on the ground (51st percentile in run defense DVOA), but Gurley is still an RB2 with the Rams only projected for 23.5 points this week. Henderson is best served on the bench as an elite handcuff.
Brandin Cooks (concussion) is out, so Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, and Josh Reynolds will be the starters. Kupp has been by far the best fantasy receiver, and he’s set up with the best matchup in the slot against a Steelers Defense that has been vulnerable to slot receivers for multiple seasons now. Kupp should be a high-volume check down option with Goff expected to face pressure. Kupp is a QB1. … Robert Woods has been and should continue to be a boom-or-bust WR3 because his volume is up and down. Woods is also being used differently in 2018 -- his average depth of target has decreased by 3.1 yards this season, which has lowered his ceiling. Also hurting his ceiling is his red-zone usage; Woods has fewer red-zone targets (3) than Antonio Brown this season (4). Cooks being out should solve some of these issues, however, making Woods a quality WR3 option. … On the road against a team that applies pressure isn’t the spot to throw a dart on Josh Reynolds, although he should see a healthy amount of snaps. … Gerald Everett’s week to week usage has been all over the place (see chart above), but he may see more looks without Cooks since Everett has downfield abilities. Among those on the TE1/2 borderline, Everett offers the most upside but predicting which one is a ceiling game is quite difficult.
Giants (23.5, -2.5) @ NYJ
Daniel Jones has been one of the worst passers in the NFL and has been extremely turnover prone -- he’s fourth in interceptions and second in fumbles at the position. Jones can hit some level of a ceiling because he has weapons and is averaging 26 rushing yards in his starts, so he has some QB2 streaming appeal against the Jets, a defense that has allowed the fourth-most pass attempts per game (38). … Saquon Barkley is good if you haven’t heard or seen, and the Jets defense has allowed the eighth-most rush attempts per game (29). The Jets’ No. 2 run defense DVOA ranking is something to fade this week. Barkley should take his 20+ touches to a strong RB1 finish.
Sterling Shepard (concussion) is out indefinitely, so Golden Tate and Darius Slayton will continue to be the top receivers for DJ. Tate has been a strong WR3 since a slow debut in Week 5, and he has a chance for a ceiling this week against a Jets Defense that is in the bottom 22nd percentile in both pass defense DVOA and at stopping fantasy receivers. … Darius Slayton has a really high 16.6 average depth of target as the Giants’ top field stretcher. His production will be extremely boom-or-bust, but he’s a dart throw option with Shepard sidelined. … Evan Engram has a foot sprain is questionable for Week 10 and beyond. I’ll update this after more news surfaces. When healthy, he’s a mid-range TE1. If he’s out, Rhett Ellison will be an awful touchdown-dependent TE2 streamer if you like tilting.
Vikings (22.5, +3) @ DAL
Passing volume is a potential issue for Kirk Cousins with both Minnesota and Dallas willing to feature their stud backs. That’s partially why the Cowboys are in the top 13th percentile against fantasy quarterbacks despite sitting in the middle of the pass defense DVOA rankings. Cousins’ production has been inconsistent, and he’ll likely be without Adam Thielen (hamstring). All things considered, Cousins is a borderline QB1/2 who isn’t likely to hit a ceiling. … Dalvin Cook is leading the NFL in carries inside-the-10 (21) and is averaging 3.7 receptions and 38 receiving yards as a receiver. He’s an elite RB1 always. Heading into Dallas isn’t ideal (see chart above), but it’s not a matchup to downgrade Cook’s outlook by much.
Adam Thielen (hamstring) isn’t likely to play, so Olabisi Johnson will slide into a slightly larger role as a fantasy WR5. … But Stefon Diggs is obviously the clear-cut No. 1 receiver as an upside WR1/2. Diggs’ role has changed this season (see tweet below) which exposes him to more up-and-down weeks but also makes him an attractive DFS tournament option. This isn’t the greatest individual matchup with the Cowboys sitting at No. 6 in PFF’s pass coverage defense, but he’s a strong WR1/2 whenever Thielen is sidelined. … Kyle Rudolph has seen more targets and air yards in the last few weeks, but he’s still only averaging 3.5 receptions and 34 yards in his last four games. Rudolph, like many other tight ends, is a touchdown-dependent TE2. The Cowboys currently sit inside the top 13th percentile against fantasy tight ends.
Bears (22, -2.5) vs. DET
If there was ever a week where Mitchell Trubisky can play even average football, it’s this week. The Lions are one of the worst defenses in terms of efficiency (see chart above) and average the third-most pass attempts against per game (39). That alone puts him in the low-end QB2 conversation but betting against Trubisky is probably the better decision. … The Lions defense has also allowed the seventh-most rush attempts per game (29), and David Montgomery took 78% of the Bears’ carries last week. Montgomery has 20+ carry upside this week as 2.5-point favorites at home, and he’s taken 92% of the Bear’s inside-the-five carries this season. The rookie is a strong RB2 option even if Trubisky continues to play XFL-level football. … Tarik Cohen has needed negative game script to show up in the box score this season, so it’s not a week to get cute with a flex play.
Allen Robinson is prone to clunkers with Trubisky at quarterback, but he’s mostly produced on his WR2-level usage. This week is a time to bet on A-Rob with Detroit checking in as a bottom third defense against fantasy receivers. As noted above, the Bears should pass the ball more this week, making Robinson a low-end WR2 with some upside. … Taylor Gabriel and Anthony Miller will be running routes and could luck into an occasional touchdown, but they don’t have enough volume to use as a flex dart throw. … The Bears are last in production from tight ends this season.
Browns (21.5, -2.5) vs. BUF
Baker Mayfield continues to struggle and checks in as a low-end QB2 on a good day. With the Bills’ high-end secondary coming to town, this isn’t the week to take a contrarian stance on Mayfield. Instead, I expect the Browns to use Nick Chubb and possibly Kareem Hunt heavily on the ground, while Mayfield funnels some of Landry’s targets towards Odell. That would be the first step in Mayfield returning to the fantasy radar, but I’m taking a wait-and-see approach given the opponent. … Nick Chubb is a nice DFS tournament option with some people overly concerned with the matchup (the Bills are great against the pass, not the run) and Kareem Hunt’s role. Coach Freddie Kitchens said Hunt will “definitely have a role” but I think Hunt has a higher chance of seeing 0-5 touches than seeing over 10. We’ve seen backs take weeks to get into game shape after sitting out, and Chubb has earned the featured role with his play. Since Chubb has averaged 19.3 carries and 3.1 receptions this season, I’m definitely keeping him in the RB1 mix.
Baker pledged to get Odell Beckham more involved this week -- thank you -- but the matchup is far from easy. The Bills are PFF’s No. 5 pass coverage defense, largely because of CB Tre’Davious White, who will likely be shadowing OBJ this week. Odell could have a big week because he’s an elite talent, but I think Week 11 and beyond is when he starts to take off. For now, I’m keeping Odell in the low-end WR2 mix given the individual matchup and recent production (4.3 receptions and 57 yards in last six games). … Jarvis Landry also has a tough individual matchup, but his WR3-level usage (see above chart) is enough to keep him in season-long flex spots. Landry can afford to lose 1-2 targets per game in the event Mayfield actually funnels more passes to OBJ.
Titans (21, +6) vs. KC
Ryan Tannehill has 300 yards or three touchdowns in all three of his starts. He’s been an improvement over Marcus Mariota, but he faces his biggest challenge yet this week. The Chiefs are a top 10th percentile pass defense, and Corey Davis is questionable to play. We’ve also seen teams pivot away from the pass to attack the Chiefs’ poor run defense, a strategy that seems likely if the scoreboard allows it. Tannehill is a two-QB option but not a standard-league streamer. … The Chiefs are PFF’s No. 32 run defense and have allowed the sixth-most rush attempts per game (29). If there’s a week to force-feed Derrick Henry carries, it’s this week. Henry is already averaging 18.2 carries and is one of three backs with 100% of his team’s share of inside-the-five carries, so the matchup is just icing on the cake. Henry is an RB1/2 with touchdown equity.
Corey Davis (hip) missed early-week practices and is questionable for now. When healthy, he’s been a low-end flex play with limited targets and air yards (see chart above). Given the Chiefs’ top 20th percentile ranking against fantasy receivers, I’d be inclined to bench Davis even if he is active. … Hopefully Davis sits so we can all enjoy more A.J. Brown, who is averaging 10.5 yards per target while playing with sub-par quarterbacks. Brown looks like a stud on tape, too, and could enjoy a mini breakout if Davis misses time. Volume will always be a concern, but the rookie would be a flex option if Davis is out. Brown is coming off a season-high in air yards. … If Davis is out, Tajae Sharpe would be the No. 2 receiver. … Delanie Walker (ankle) also looks like he’ll miss Week 10, so Jonnu Smith should draw another start. In his last three games, Smith has averaged four receptions for 53 yards and 0.3 touchdowns. That’s definitely TE1/2 production, and he could see an additional target or two if Davis is sidelined.
Jets (21, +2.5) vs. NYG
Sam Darnold has more interceptions (24) than passing touchdowns (23) through 18 games, and he’s only averaging 215 yards this season. He’s been awful, so the only reason for optimism is the matchup; the Giants are in the bottom 25th percentile against the pass and against fantasy quarterbacks. Darnold is a QB2 based on volume and hope. … The Giants defense has allowed the fifth-most rush attempts per game (30) because the Giants are bad. That’s good news for Le’Veon Bell as long as he’s healthy, which is to be determined. I’ll update this section once more news comes out, but Bell would be an upside RB1/2 if healthy and Ty Montgomery would be a plug-and-play RB2/3 option if not.
Robby Anderson was able to get deep in Week 6 for a 5-125-1 game, but he’s been held to 7-86-0 in the three games since. Anderson has some bounceback appeal this week, however. The Giants are PFF’s No. 28 pass coverage defense and rookie CB Deandre Baker has allowed the second-most receiving yards per coverage snap. Since Anderson is primarily used deep, his production is boom-or-bust, but he’s a quality WR3/4 with a respectable amount of weekly air yards (see above chart). … Jamison Crowder and Demaryius Thomas are the next options and their production has been equally inconsistent. Crowder had nine targets last week, but he needs that level of volume to pay off as a low-aDOT receiver. Perhaps that happens, but there are many paths to failure. Crowder and Thomas are WR5 options. … Chris Herndon (hamstring) has been limited in practices and may end up being a game-time decision. He’s been a total sketch ball this season, so I’m inclined to wait-and-see Herndon’s usage before vaulting him into the TE1/2 discussion. But there is definitely some upside since he piled up 502 receiving yards on 9.0 YPT as a rookie last season. The Jets fill-in tight end, Ryan Griffin, has seen 4.3 targets per game in his last four contests.
Teams are listed in order of their Vegas projected team points.
Page 1: NO, TB, BAL, IND, KC, SF, GB, DAL
Page 2: ARI, NYG, LAR, MIN, CHI, CLE, TEN, NYJ
Page 3: CAR, SEA, PIT, DET, BUF, ATL, CIN, MIA
TNF: OAK, LAC
Byes: DEN, HOU, JAX, NE, PHI, WAS
Panthers (20.5, 5.5) @ GB
Kyle Allen had some love from #QBWinz truthers earlier in the season, but he’s simply not good. In fact, he’s so bad that I want the Panthers to put in rookie Will Grier. Anyways, the Packers Defense has negatively regressed recently, but the Panthers Offense runs through this CMC cat. Allen is, at best, a low-end QB2 with the Panthers projected for 20.5 points on the road. … Christian McCaffrey is literally on pace to break fantasy records this season. He’s the RB1 overall every week, especially against the Packers who are in the bottom 16th percentile against fantasy running backs.
Curtis Samuel is fifth in air yards (932), third in 20+ yard targets, and has the third-highest team share of red-zone targets (33%). In terms of volume, Samuel is borderline elite, but Allen’s struggles have made Samuel a boom-or-bust WR3. Luckily for Samuel, the Packers are in the bottom 25th percentile at preventing 20+ yard pass plays, and he’ll run some routes against CB CB Kevin King has allowed the most receiving yards per coverage snap per PFF. … D.J. Moore is far more consistent week to week because he’s targeted closer to the line of scrimmage, but he doesn’t have as much upside with Samuel hogging downfield and red zone looks. In fact, D.J. Moore has fewer red-zone targets (3) than Antonio Brown (4). Still, Moore is averaging 5.6 receptions and 70 yards as a fantasy WR2. … Since beating the Cardinals flow chart defense, Greg Olsen is averaging 2.2 receptions and 22 yards in his last five games. Olsen is a touchdown-dependent TE2 on a team that doesn’t score many touchdowns.
Steelers (20, +3.5) vs. LAR
I’m not playing Mason Rudolph this season, especially with the Rams’ above-average defense coming to town. Rudolph is averaging 195 yards and 1.6 touchdowns in his five starts. … James Conner (shoulder) isn’t likely to play, so we should see Jaylen Samuels draw another start. Samuels is not a traditional running back, which actually helps him in fantasy. Dating back to the end of last year, Samuels is averaging 12.5 carries and 6.25 receptions in his four starts, and he had an eight-catch game three weeks ago when he didn’t start. His reception projection makes him a strong RB1/2, especially with backups Benny Snell and Trey Edmunds also banged up. Samuels is basically a true bellcow this week.
JuJu Smith-Schuster’s efficiency stats remain near career averages, but he’s averaging just 4.1 receptions per game this season after a nice 6.9 season in 2018. That’s what happens with a backup quarterback. JuJu can still single-handedly break off a big play, but the Rams Defense is also in the 13th percentile at preventing 20+ yard passes. JuJu is a WR3. … James Washington has more air yards than Diontae Johnson in back-to-back games, but neither is more than WR5 dart throws when everyone is healthy. … Vance McDonald is only catching the ball right next to the line of scrimmage, and he has limited touchdown equity with the Steelers projected to score 20 points.
Lions (19.5, +2.5) @ CHI
Update: Matthew Stafford is out and Driskel is the backup, so everyone needs to be dropped quite significantly.
Matthew Stafford is averaging five more pass attempts per game in his last three games, which lines up with Kerryon Johnson’s injury. It appears that the Lions will use Stafford a lot down the stretch, something they should be doing since he has a career-high 8.6 YPA and 70 QBR. The matchup in Chicago is somewhat difficult, but these aren’t the same Bears we are used to and this isn’t the same conservative Lions Offense. Stafford needs to be slightly downgraded with Vegas only projecting 19.5 points for Detroit, but I like Stafford as a low-end QB1 still. He’s a contrarian DFS tournament option, too. … Ty Johnson led the backfield in carries (9) while tying J.D. McKissic with three receptions last week. This is primarily a two-man backfield, but Paul Perkins also had two carries. I think those touch totals are good projections for this week, making Johnson a low-end flex option who needs to find the end zone to pay off. The Lions would be smart to completely scrap the rushing attack except in short-area situations.
With Stafford slinging the ball downfield more than ever, we are seeing Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones at their best. Golladay’s average depth of target has increased by 3.1 yards this season, which has helped vault him inside the top three in air yards this season. Babytron is on pace for 1,280 yards and 14 TDs as an upside WR1/2. Heading into Chicago is less than ideal (see bar chart above), but it’s not scary enough to drop him much in Week 10 rankings. Golladay is an upside WR2 with a 7-10 target projection. … Marvin Jones has been the best red-zone receiver this season, scoring six red zone touchdowns on 10 red-zone targets. There’s no way he can keep that up, but he’s still a high-touchdown projection because he’s targeted in the red zone and downfield often. The Bears are in the top 17th percentile at preventing 20+ yard plays, so I’m not expecting a ceiling game. With that said, Jones’ targets and air yards (see above chart) keep him as an upside WR3. … Danny Amendola is a sneaky flex option as Stafford’s No. 3 receiver, but that’s not this week. … T.J. Hockenson has averaged 2.3 receptions and 23 yards since Week 1. He has been slightly more involved post-Kerryon, but he’s still a touchdown-dependent TE2 who typically sees fewer than 50 air yards and six targets. The Bears are also in the top 10th percentile against fantasy tight ends.
Seahawks (20.5, +6) @ SF
The 49ers defense is pretty good, but I think most are overrating this unit. San Francisco hasn’t played a single top-15 quarterback (Kyler Murray, Kyle Allen, Case Keenum, Jared Goff, Baker Mayfield, Mason Rudolph, Andy Dalton, and Jameis Winston) in The Athletic’s Ben Baldwin’s predictive EPA+CPOE composite metric and defensive efficiency statistics largely depend on the offenses they’ve faced. I’d much rather bet on MVP candidate Russell Wilson than a defense that’s faced nobody. Wilson is the No. 2 fantasy quarterback and gets to incorporate Josh Gordon into the lineup as his No. 3 receiver. If the Hawks fall behind like Vegas projects, we should actually see Russ throw the ball with some volume. I’m keeping Wilson in the top eight at the position despite the perceived terrible matchup. … The Niners’ defensive line has a lot of talent, which has led them to be first in adjusted sack rate. But they aren’t nearly as awesome against the run; PFF has them as the No. 29 run defense and DVOA has them as a below-average run defense. I’m not very concerned that Chris Carson won’t run efficiently in this matchup (he’s leading the NFL in yards after contact), but I am slightly concerned about volume. The 49ers are 27th in rush attempts allowed (22 on average) because they have a clock-draining offense and are often leading (SF is a 6-point favorite here). Carson should still see 15-20 touches, but I’m viewing him as more of a low-end RB1 than a stud RB1 for this week. … Rashaad Penny is basically just a handcuff to Carson.
For the reasons I laid out above, I like Tyler Lockett as an underrated play in DFS tournaments. Lockett is seeing lots of volume when the Seahawks are trailing (Week 3 vs. NO, Week 9 vs. TB) and Vegas projects that to happen this week. Lockett should see 6-10 targets, and he’s averaging 10.7 yards per target this season. Lockett remains in the upside WR1/2 conversation despite the 49ers checking in as PFF’s No. 2 pass coverage defense. … D.K. Metcalf also sees extra usage while trailing, and he gets the softest WR/CB matchup with Emmanuel Moseley, who is four inches shorter, 44 pounds lighter, and 0.14 slower (forty) than Metcalf. Metcalf remains an upside WR3. … Josh Gordon is more likely to be on a snap count than be a full-time player. Gordon isn’t a recommended play this week -- I think he’ll face CB Richard Sherman on most snaps -- and should be a low-volume dart throw when fully acclimated to the offense. … Jacob Hollister, not Luke Willson, is the tight end to know for fantasy on the Hawks. Hollister has six targets in 2-of-3 games and even scored two touchdowns last week. There are worse tight end dart throws than Hollister, who is at least tied to Russ Wilson.
Bills (19, +2.5) @ CLE
Josh Allen always has volume concerns in this offense, but this week is even more concerning with the Browns defense allowing the fifth-fewest pass attempts per game (31). Allen will need to get going with his legs to be a worthwhile start, which is always possible given his athleticism, but I’m agreeing with Vegas’ 19.25-point team total. There is a mismatch in the trenches favoring Myles Garrett and the Browns (see sack rate above), so Allen is more of a QB2 than QB1/2 streamer. … Last week, Devin Singletary took over the backfield by seeing a season-high 20 carries, while Frank Gore was limited to 15 yards on 11 carries. It’s safe to project Singletary for 12-16 carries against the Browns, who are PFF’s No. 30 run defense and have allowed the fifth-most rush attempts per game (29), but Singletary needs the goal-line role to reach weekly ceilings. Right now, Frank Gore has taken 64% of the Bills’ inside-the-five carries and was subbed in near the goal-line last week, even when Singletary was balling out. Gore did fail multiple times and Singletary did have a late goal-line touchdown, so I do think Singletary earned more goal-line reps but worth monitoring. Singletary is an RB2 while Gore belongs on fantasy benches.
John Brown has fewer red-zone targets than Antonio Brown, which partially explains why he only has two touchdowns despite 603 receiving yards. Brown should score more touchdowns in the second half of the season because he’s consistently seeing WR2 usage as an intermediate and deep target. Brown somehow has at least 4 receptions and 51 yards in all 8 games, which gives him a decent floor to pair with his upside tied to positive touchdown regression. Brown is on the WR2/3 borderline. … Cole Beasley has touchdowns in three straight games, but we aren’t starting low-ceiling slot receivers on the road when they are averaging 4.4 receptions per game. … Dawson Knox is no longer a TE streamer with Tyler Kroft playing.
Falcons (19, +13) @ NO
With the Falcons non-existent defense and running game forcing the offense into pass-heavy scripts, Matt Ryan is filling up the box score and is arguably an every-week QB1. Despite missing one game and already having his bye week, Matty Ice is leading in 300-yard passing games (6). Vegas expects the Falcons to only score 19 points this week, but Ryan still offers a decent floor as a low-end QB1. … The Saints are PFF’s No. 3 run defense and have allowed the second-fewest rush attempts per game (20). Devonta Freeman isn’t likely going to put up great numbers on the ground, but Freeman is averaging 4.4 receptions and 34 receiving yards this season. While trailing heavily in Week 8, Freeman posted an 8-63-0 receiving line. His receiving projection keeps him in the mix as an RB2, but it’ll be very hard for him to reach a ceiling this week.
I always find my buddy Ian Hartitz’s WR/CB column very informative, but his breakdown of the ATL/NO game was especially good. Hartitz notes the Saints have used stud CB Marshon Lattimore on Calvin Ridley while using a No. 2 corner (this time CB Eli Apple) and a safety over the top on Julio Jones. Hartitz also notes that both receivers balled out when this happened. Okay, back to the Forecast… It’s more of the same for Julio Jones this season. He’s on pace for 100 receptions, 1,424 yards, and 8 touchdowns. Julio is an every-week WR1 with elite usage (No. 4 in air yards). Not much to say about him. … The Mohamed Sanu trade should make Calvin Ridley a more consistent WR2/3 because he should see 1-2 more targets per game and could eventually see more slot snaps. Another place for improvement is in the red zone, where Ridley has fewer targets (3) than Antonio Brown (4), but we shouldn’t expect more red-zone usage in a game where the Falcons are projected for 19 points. Ridley is a WR3. … Russell Gage is the new No. 3 receiver. … Austin Hooper has been hyper-efficient in the red zone, scoring touchdowns on 5-of-9 red-zone targets. But even without his touchdown luck, Hooper has been a stud TE1. He’s on pace for 104 receptions, 1,182 yards, and 10 touchdowns. With the Saints in the bottom 22nd percentile against tight ends and with Sanu gone, continue to fire up Hooper as a top-five TE1.
Bengals (17.25, +10) vs. BAL
The Andy Dalton Era is over. Enter fourth-round rookie QB Ryan Finley, who had a very similar NFL projection to Daniel Jones per my NFL Draft analytics model. At NC State in 2018, Finley had a top 10 passing EPA season as an accurate passer, but he was a redshirt senior. I think he’s better than most fourth-round quarterbacks, but fourth-round quarterbacks usually suck. Finley isn’t a recommended 2-QB start with the Bengals projected for 17.25 points. … The Ravens defense has allowed the fewest rush attempts per game (19), and Joe Mixon was already only seeing 12.6 carries per game. Mixon has limited touchdown and pass-game equity, too, so Mixon is merely a low-floor, low-ceiling flex option, even if the Ravens have struggled to stop the run (see above chart).
A.J. Green (ankle) won’t be playing this week -- I think he just doesn’t want to play this season -- so we’ll have another week of Tyler Boyd (slot), Auden Tate, and Alex Erickson. All three receivers have had decent volume recently, but we can’t expect Finley to pass as often as Dalton. Tate is my favorite of the three because he’s clearly leading in air yards in the last three games (see air yards above) and because he’s due for positive touchdown regression -- Tate has 13 red-zone targets with just one red zone touchdown. Tate is a decent flex option considering six teams are on bye. … Tyler Boyd has had consistent WR2/3 usage, but he’s a low-ceiling fantasy asset given his low average depth of target and the status of the offense in general. The last time Boyd played Baltimore, underrated CB Marlon Humphrey held him to 10 yards on 7 targets. Boyd is barely a flex play this week. … Alex Erickson is a volume-based WR5 with no floor. Not really trying to use Finley’s No. 3 receiver in his debut though. … Tyler Eifert had a season-high nine targets last week while trailing against the Rams, but he’s averaging 2.9 receptions and 24 yards this season. Eifert has a career-low 5.8 YPT. He’s a touchdown-dependent TE2.
Dolphins (16.75, +10.5) @ IND
Ryan Fitzpatrick can actually have serviceable fantasy weeks because he throws the ball deep often, but the Colts’ run-heavy offense should limit Fitzpatrick’s volume and he no longer has Preston Williams. … Mark Walton played at least 50 snaps in the two games without Kenyan Drake, but he’s now suspended. Kalen Ballage and rookie Myles Gaskin are expected to take over the backfield in one of the most uninspiring committees in NFL history. Even against PFF’s No. 31 run defense, neither are fantasy starters. Here was my 250 characters or fewer scouting report on Gaskins: “Four-straight seasons with 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns is a ton of production, but it’s tough to move past his small frame and poor advanced metrics. Gaskin needed to run faster than 4.58 at the NFL Scouting Combine. His path is as a pass-catcher.”
Preston Williams (knee, IR) leaves behind 30% of Miami’s air yards and 21% of targets. When Williams was easing into the lineup in the first two weeks of the season, DeVante Parker had his two highest air yard games, which makes sense because they win in similar ways -- Parker has a 14.8 average depth of target and Williams was at 13.2, both operating as deep targets. Parker, who is already top 20 in air yards, will likely have WR2 usage without Williams. Efficiency on this Dolphins team is awful, but I like Parker as a WR3. … Albert Wilson, Jakeem Grant, and Allen Hurns will have more opportunity as well, but they are all purely wait-and-see options. … Mike Gesicki, who is a 97th percentile SPARQ athlete, also could get interesting. The second-year tight end set a season-high in routes run last week and had his second-highest air yards game. Gesicki is a touchdown-dependent TE2, who has some minor breakout potential.